"You! are making this so hard."
Gage stared at Macy. For a moment he was certain she was going to hit him in the chest. Maybe his arm.
No one wanted pizza right now. No, they were going for cheese trays and fruit bowls at the mega grocery store.
"What are, you.. going on about?" He finally winced. They were both in hairnets and company policy outfits donned in Santa hats like his little helpers.
"I dunno what to get, you, for Christmas." She crossed her arms as if he was the worst person to buy for.
"I don't want anything." He told her. Although, that might not be true. It didn't have to be bought. Still, he would be content just to be with her for Christmas. Anywhere.
"Yeah, just drag me to one of your chats, again." She gave him the eye with a swelled frown. Oh, she did like to fuss and it only made him smile more to watch her.
"OK, I know that wasn't being fair to you. But..but I'm glad you did. I don't like talking to Halie, alone. And he was there." He sighed. Did they really have to rehash Thanksgiving, all over again.
"He has a name." She reminded him that Halie was seeing Dusty.
Thank God, a customer broke their conversation. But it was a guy about Gage's age. He was looking over the slices of pizza under the lights.
"You're Macy, aren't you?" He finally asked.
Gage glared at him, thinking how dare he. But Gage couldn't put his arm around Macy and act as if he could defend his territory. Yet Gage couldn't help to swell up with a bit of jealousy, as he crossed his arms.
Macy nodded. He asked for a slice of sausage pizza. About then, Macy's father walked up and put his hand on the teenager's shoulder.
"I see you've met Dickey, already." His father smiled.
Gage rolled the name around in his head and then sighed. What an awful name to give a kid, he thought, trying not to grimace.
"This is your brother, Dickey." Her dad looked at Macy as she handed over the slice of pizza on a tray to Dickey.
Macy hardly managed to smile. They walked away to the dining area.
"You, better go socialize." Gage told her he could manage. She sighed and went to get cups so her Dad and brother could have drinks.
Holden never liked having to drive to work at night. It was true, He relived his last moment with Sunny Wilson, the girl who died in the car crash he was in, everyday. Still. He remembered her dazzling smile. How she smelled of citrus and spice.
He would tell himself over and over that he was a good driver. It wasn't his fault about the accident.
Of course, there was a good portion of his life he seldom remembered. Just the present with his long distance girlfriend Maddie, who was dancing the Nutcracker somewhere in Denver, about now.
His life was OK. So he started up the old car that his dad let him have. In a few blocks, he would be to where he worked, the mega grocery store. Everything would be OK.
As soon as he backed out of the drive and hit the street rolling, up came the old quilt from the back seat. Holden slammed on the breaks, and Essie almost flipped into the front seat.
"Holy crap!" He looked at her in the review mirror. It was like seeing a ghost in the golden streetlight.
She scrunched a look that maybe she'd scared herself. too. Her hair was a mess and she was in a plain dark dress, belted up like a minister of some kind.
"What are, you, doing in my car!"
She finally crawled in the front seat.
"I need your help." She looked so lost and a bit under dressed for the cold.
Now he really needed to get to the grocery store before he was late. So he drove on as if he really needed to get to his destination.
"What's going on?" He was even lipped as if he didn't want her to know that he cared. He couldn't care. He didn't want to care. After all, she'd been like ice to him for months now. Didn't she hate him?
"It doesn't concern you." She said rather flatly.
"Well..obviously it does..or you wouldn't be be here." He focused wide eyed on the road. "What happened?"
"I have to get away." She hugged herself. Evidently, she didn't really want anything from him, after all..but a ride. It wasn't like last Valentines day when she wanted him in her car.
A few minutes later they arrived at the grocery store and he got her hot coffee and some warm bread pudding.
"If..if you're hurt..or something..I want you to see someone about it." He saw her now in the light of the dining area. She did look more chilled than he expected. "How long were you in my car?" He wanted to know.
"It wasn't that long." She shook her head, no.
Holden nodded. "Just stay right here. I'll be back." Holden took a deep breath. The only place he knew to go was to find someone at the health clinic in the store. Maybe there was something physically wrong with Essie, after all.